“This is not fair, Boss.”

“What’s not fair, Aussie?”

“You sealed up the fence completely. I’ve been sniffing high and low, digging tunnels, pushing the gate every which way I can, and I can’t get out. And it’s all Harry’s fault.”

“Why, Auss?”

“Before you weren’t crazy about how I managed to get out, but it didn’t seem to worry you too much.”

“That’s very observant, Aussie. You generally avoided the road, which gets very little traffic anyway, and you also tended to stay away from people. You seemed to stay in calling distance, too. You didn’t run far, and when I’d open the front door and call you to come, you came.”

“But Harry destroyed the status quo!”

“Exactly, Aussie. As long as Harry didn’t break out with you, things were fine. But the day I went to Boston Tim found both of you outside the front of the house. The next day I watched as Harry heard a construction truck, and before I knew it he sidled under the gate and rushed up the driveway to the road. That’s when I knew things had to change.”

“But I never rushed up that driveway after trucks or horses or even other dogs, Boss. I broke the rules but I was never a maniac like Harry.”

“That’s true, Aussie.”

“So why am I being punished because of something he did? It’s not fair!”

“Auss, we’re one family, one pack. What one of us does affects all.”

“Spare me your spiritual answers, Boss.”

“Beside, I’m the one who’s in trouble now.”

“What trouble’s that?”

“My friend Jon Katz with the great blog—“

“Not the dog maven!—“

“—told me that you dogs reflect us. You see, Aussie, we raise you to be a projection of ourselves, or of whom we want to be, and you guys become that because you adjust so well to our expectations.”

“Oh phooey, what does he know about being a dog?”

“I realized there’s a lot of truth in that, Auss. I love your independent spirit, loved the way you stubbornly went after that fence time and time again. I have to admit I even sneakily admire how you don’t listen to me in the woods and just run and run. You see, I think I want to run away, too, Aussie. I also want to break through fences.”

“What fence? I don’t see any fence around you, Boss. And anyway, now I can’t run through the fence anymore on account of that no-good, lame-brain, maniac.”

“Which leaves me in a quandary, Aussie.”

“Leaves me in the back yard.”

“If you’re no longer breaking through the fences or running away, then what does that say about me?”

“I give up, Boss. What?”

“You no longer embody my fantasy of escape.”

“Yes, I do. I’m the one who gets away.”

“Not anymore, Aussie. You embody staying home. You embody lying in the grass and taking in the sun. So what does that say about me?”

“I give up, Boss. What?”

“Maybe you and I are both learning to stay home more, be comfortable in our skins.”

“Oh yeah? So speaking of skin, Boss, if I’m shedding, does that mean you fantasize about shedding, too?”

“Maybe the reason I brush you so regularly is that I’m trying to shed some dead skin of my own, Aussie.”

“ And if I’m chewing on a bone half the day, does that mean that deep in your heart you want to chew on a bone too?”

“Maybe not on a bone, but I’d love to snack half the day, Aussie.”

“And if I tear up the house chasing Harry all day, is that what you secretly want to do, too?”

“I’d love to play more, Aussie.”

“And if I eat the horse turds that Gala and T leave up on the road, do you also want to—“

“I don’t have fantasies about horseshit, Aussie.”

“I didn’t think so. So much for that theory. Beside, Boss. I still want to run away, see? That’s gotta count for something!”